Walter Wink’s carefully researched volumes addressing “The Powers” in our context give much food for thought when considering the Church in all its foolishness. The following quote is a concise summary of his first volume.
I will argue that the “principalities and powers” are the inner and outer aspects of any given manifestation of power. As the inner aspect they are the spirituality of institutions, the “within” of corporate structures and systems, the inner essence of outer organisation of power. As the outer aspect they are political systems, appointed officials, the “chair” of an organisation, laws – in short, all the tangible manifestations which power takes. Every Power tends to have a visible pole, an outer form – be it a church, a nation, or an economy – and an invisible pole, an inner spirit or driving force that animates, legitimates, and regulates its physical manifestation in the world. Neither pole is the cause of the other. Both come into existence together and cease to exist together. When a particular Power becomes idolatrous, placing itself above God’s purposes for the good of the whole, then that Power becomes demonic. The church’s task is to unmask this idolatry and recall the Powers to their created purposes in the world – “so that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is” (Eph 3:10, JB).
Wink, Naming the Powers, p5.
Reference: Wink, Walter. Naming the Powers : The Language of Power in the New Testament. Edited by Walter Wink, The Powers ; V. 1. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.